2014-02-06 – When one team goes out to play baseball and the opponent is playing basketball, you might have a hard time saying who won. One team wins on runs batted in. The other wins on field goals.
That’s what happened the other day when Bill Nye the Science Guy debated Ken Ham the head of the Creation Museum. Evolution won on science points and Creation won on . . . well, anti-science points. Who would’ve thought?
Many evolution supporters were opposed to the debate even happening. They knew that Bill Nye could only lose by winning. Creationists, of course, were happy to have the debate. Ken Ham could only win by losing. Heads I win, tails you lose.
Bill Nye talked about all the evidence for evolution. He talked about how the theory of evolution helps advance science that has real practical benefits for society. Ken Ham talked about the Bible. Neither guy really crossed into the other’s territory.
That would have been really interesting. Because I don’t think the story in Genesis says what either man thinks it says.
You have to think about what “In the beginning . . .” meant to the people who first heard it. Our ancient ancestors lived in a world of myth. And in that world of myth the world came about as a result of wars between the gods.
Along came the Bible to say “no.” It was a polemic against myth. It was a polemic against magic. The story doesn’t offer a creation story at all. It conceals it. No mechanism is discussed—deliberately. This was a startling development in the ancient world.
But not, thousands of years later, the story is flipped on its head. Fundamentalists now take it in a mythic sense and say: this is the way the world was created. Trouble is: there is no way stated.
It was meant to be freeing. It leaves plenty of room for science.
The ancients were at war with the pagans. “In the beginning . . .” was a weapon in that war. Today’s fundamentalists are at war with science and they have chosen that same book of Genesis as a weapon in this new war. But the price of using this story is that the fundamentalists have had to become pagan to use it. Worshippers of a graven image.